September 28, 2012

Dear Dad:

I had to turn on some Drive By Truckers while writing this, in honor of my friend Sean Brock.

I don’t think people who are in the culinary industry in Charleston (and around the south, and hell the country) could deny the impact Sean Brock has had on them in some way, shape or form. For me, Sean has had a lasting impression, one I will never forget and one I want to continue to keep growing through the years to come.

I feel like in some ways I have seen Sean grow up. When we first met, he was the “new kid” in town, just joining the reigns at McCrady’s. My early memories of him was a shy boy who liked to do a lot with foam. And man was it some tasty foam. He was filling some big shoes with Michael Kramer’s departure and came in not trying to replace, but bringing something new to the table. I loved going in his kitchen (and still do) because it was always filled with “science projects” and young cooks hovering around wanting to learn more. He has continued to build his kitchen, now in various shapes and places, and it is outfitted with more preserves and Ball jars than before. Whatever it is filled with, you know it is good and pure.

In my opinion, Sean gets criticized too often and is sorely under appreciated. I have told him this a million times and wanted to dedicate a blog as a thank you for what he has done for me and for Charleston. We are lucky to have him and hope he stays here for a long, long time.

Here are some of my highlights to date of and with Sean and can’t wait to add more to the list in the future:

  • My all time favorite thing about Sean is his smile and laugh. Anyone who has been around him when he laughs, can’t help to laugh with him. It is memorable, contagious and a true trademark of his.
  • His love for learning, growing, developing, mentoring, etc. He is so passionate for what he does and how he lives. He does not sit still and takes advantage of every moment. To him sleep is a waste, because it is time away from what he loves. That says a lot.
  • How can you not love someone who loves (and has) a pug. I too have a pug and I knew the minute Sean and his wife Tonya shared my passion for the cute, pudgy, food eating, snorting, silly noise making dogs, that we would be life long friends. #obeythepug
  • I knew when Sean invited David Chang (who was just making a name for himself at the time) to Charleston to be part of the Festival, big things would happen for us as an organization. And it did and has. Sean has had a huge part in inviting so many of the amazing talent that has been part of our event. Wylie Dufresne, Paul Liebrandt, George Mendes, Richard Blais, Marco Canora and this year April Bloomfield, Ben Shewry, Daniel Patterson and Chris Cosentino where all in some shape or form here from a phone call/invite from Sean. He is gracious about asking, welcoming to those that come and super supportive to our mission and efforts. That speaks volumes and even though he is busier than ever he is never too crazy to answer a call or a request.
  • He is surrounded by great people. In general I hate it when chefs have “people” but in this case, it is appreciated and welcomed. Kristin Cunningham is a saint and keeps on top of it. Jeremiah Langhorne, Travis Grimes and the entire kitchen and front of the house teams rock it at the restaurants. David Howard is an incredible leader and supporter. And Melany Mullens and the rest of the Polished Pig girls really give it their all. If only all chefs could have “people” like these.
  • Damn the boy can cook. There is nothing I have ever had of Sean’s that I did not “love”. And I have had a lot of his food. From 10 course meals at the restaurant, to pig/lamb/cow/squirrel cooked at a Fatback Collective/SFA type event, I have had my share of flavors and tastes. With every bite, you can taste the history, the time and energy, the love he has for cooking. I look forward to the next time I dine with him (which just so happens to be a Magnus Nilsson dinner next month) because I know it is guaranteed to be good, if not great, if not the best.
  • I love a good ole Southern boy and Sean is that true and true. Even though he looks like he might not have showered sometimes, if you look closer you will see that the torn looking shirt is Billy Reid, along with the pants, the shoes, the hat. He carries the southern brand to its finest and has shown the world how cool a redneck can really be. #makecornbreadnotwar
  • He never complains and never says no. He is one of the most giving and caring people I know. Look at his schedule–New York one day, Atlanta the next. Charleston in between and on to the next. It is all for good causes, including preaching the southern life. He should be applauded for that! Thanks Sean.
  • There are many moments I just can’t write about. Mostly because I got “brocked” and could not handle my intake of pappy at that moment in time. I am always jealous that he cannot only hold his own, but functions astonishing well and pull overnighters like it’s no one’s business. He is polished and cool no matter what, and he always brings something interesting to the mix, aka how to throw up drinking sprite while eating a banana.

So as you can see, I have a lot of reasons to write this blog to Sean. I am sure his cheeks will get a little pink with embarrassment, but he deserves a little praise and cheer. He is such a wonderful person, has such great intentions and has such incredible aspirations. I just can’t wait to see what he does next. Right, Montel Williams!


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